"Children of Fallujah" is one of a group of poems written in response to the second Iraq war. The poems form a chapbook titled Dark Season.
Children of Fallujah
She offers them – her arms,
her hands, fingers spread, the black
gates of her elbows locked open.
She begs you to take them.
Her head tilts back, throat
exposed. Even there she is burned.
In the narrow room beside the metal bed
I bend to kiss the only place
the fire has left for me.
The soles of my daughter’s feet
smell of rubber and seared lamb,
the taste of smoke, dirt, and the grit
of broken concrete.
Outside the crumbling walls
I go to harvest
rusty screws, bottle caps, even gravel
into an old soup can I take to the others
hiding under the wide tongue of tin
in the rubble where the school was.
I still hear my sister scream
above the roar of the planes
and I don’t care anymore
what started the fire, whose fault
this is. I am becoming the flame itself,
pure and without mercy.
The plastic Evian bottle
packed with rusty screws
on the first bounce half-way back
in the bed of the truck,
and all he remembers
is flying and the blue blue
endless blue – why
hadn’t he seen how blue it was,
how inside it he is –
like being inside
robin’s egg blue
his mother called it,
the broken shell she showed him --
the nest had fallen in the spring storm.
I saw the robin, she said,
sitting on the branch above.
It looked confused.
The shell was paper thin and smaller
than he would have thought
but now the egg is enormous.
Everything is inside it. The debris
falling around him is only
the brown specks he saw then
on the outside of the broken shell –
delicate enough to make him cry,
because now he is a boy again
and this is the last thing he sees.
Because now he sees that he is
inside everything and everything
is inside him and he is looking down --
he has become the robin, no
he is the small splotch of yolk
he dipped his finger in –
it was golden yellow as the sun
so close the light is everywhere
blinding him. It was golden
darker than the yellow on a
bumblebee, the color of calendula
in the garden by the rope
swing. He is swinging
higher than he ever has before
into the blue
between the speckles, now
there is nothing
between him and the yellow yellow
sun and he is letting go
of the rope, he is flying.